I don’t think it’s that difficult to accept

Sara Petersen


I know it’s a strange, yet amazing concept. Some students, staff and faculty may say there’s not an astounding amount of respect given to people of different sexes, races, religions, sexuality and cultures here at Kent State, but I say differently.

I come from an extremely small town outside of Toledo. I graduated with 119 people, and all of the surrounding school districts are about the same size. The idea of diversity of any kind is unheard of. Everybody who lives in that area is mainly of German descent and is your average WASP.

I met a guy from a neighboring town whose mother is from Japan, and we dated for about a year. When he first met my parents, my mom was a little taken aback, and my dad didn’t say anything. After he and I left the house, my dad totally flipped out because I was dating a “Jap.” It’s actually rather ironic because the guy I dated refers to himself as a “Twinkie,” you know, yellow on the outside but white on the inside. He thinks that manga and other Japanese fads in America are stupid. He is also one of the biggest Jesus Freaks I have ever met, and his dad is a Methodist pastor.

The day after he met my parents, my dad grilled me about the guy’s whole background: Where does he go to school? Where are his parents from? He’s a Buddhist because that’s what their religion is, right?

Disgust. I was filled with it at my father’s behavior and ignorance. My dad only saw the Japanese race and then assumed every stereotypical thing about my boyfriend. We received weird looks and jeers when we went out together, and people from home told me I could find someone better than him. They didn’t get to know him. They didn’t want to. All they assumed was that he’s Japanese and, because of that, clearly not a normal small-town American.

When we came to Kent State, nobody thought anything of us as a couple. We quickly made friends and nothing derogatory was sent our way. The idea of two people of a different race dating each other didn’t seem like a big deal.

When I was home for the summer, I showed my mom my copy of Fusion, a magazine produced by Kent State students that’s geared toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It’s won a number of national awards.

So, with immense pride I wanted to show my mom this amazing magazine. I wanted to show her that this is what my school can do, and it’s teaching me to be as awesome as the people who made it.

As soon as my mom took the magazine out of my hand, she carelessly flipped through it, looked at me and said, “Sara, are you trying to tell me something?”

Bam. I hit a wall of disgust again.

I love my mom, but it annoys me when she views things as gross and weird that aren’t in her “normal” world. Even if I were to become a lesbian or a bisexual, should it matter? There isn’t anything wrong with being gay, bisexual or straight. Love is love.

I lived on the same floor as a girl who is bisexual, and it was no big deal. Everybody treated her the same way they treated everyone else. I also haven’t heard of an excess amount of “gay bashing” in Kent like I hear about at Bowling Green.

Another word for different is diverse, and each and every one of the more than 6 billion people living in this world of ours is just that. There is diversity on this campus, and please open your eyes and see it, embrace it and treasure it. It really is a wonderful thing, and I only wish my hometown could experience it.

Sara Petersen is a junior public relations major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].